Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Peter Lovesey's Beau Death: review by Sue Trowbridge. Book Give-Away

Peter Lovesey is one of my favorite authors and favorite people. I've known him for over 30 years, but my acquaintance with his books precedes that. Peter has also been a big supporter of and frequent contributor to the Mystery Readers Journal. With over 40 novels and numerous short stories and editor of anthologies, Peter Lovesey has just been named Grandmaster by Mystery Writers of America.

Do you have a favorite Peter Lovesey novel? Make a comment below for a chance to win a copy of his latest novel Beau Death. Be sure and leave your email address.

This review originally appeared on The Saturday Reader. Reprinted with permission by Sue Trowbridge. Sue Trowbridge reviews books (mostly mysteries & thrillers) every week on her blog. She works as a freelance web developer and book designer.

Beau Death by Peter Lovesey
reviewed by Sue Trowbridge

You can always count on Peter Lovesey to provide you with a solid, well-written, well-plotted novel. Year after year, Lovesey just keeps publishing fine crime fiction—he’s written over 40 books—and funnily enough, just a few hours after I had been musing, “Is Peter Lovesey taken for granted?” the news broke that he had been awarded Grand Master status by the Mystery Writers of America. I hope the honor will bring more attention to his stellar body of work.

Beau Death is the latest entry in his long-running series about Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond, who works in the historic city of Bath. As the novel opens, a block of run-down townhouses is being demolished, and the wrecking ball reveals a surprise in one of the attics: a skeleton, dressed in an 18th-century costume, sitting in a chair. The police are called in, and when a goofy photo of Diamond with the remains goes viral, people start speculating that the dead man could be Beau Nash.

Nash was known as the “King of Bath,” a local icon who hosted royalty, politicians and famous writers during his tenure as town’s unofficial Master of Ceremonies. Eventually, scandal and debts caused him to survive on a small income from city funds, and when he died, he was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave—but could he somehow have wound up in a townhouse attic in an unfashionable suburb instead?

I will admit that I thought Beau Nash was Lovesey’s own creation, kind of a take-off on Beau Brummel, but he was real. Not real is the book’s Beau Nash Society, a fashionable, invitation-only Bath club whose members are required to attend meetings dressed in period costume. If the corpse isn’t the real Beau, perhaps he was a modern-day member of the Society, and with a little help from his girlfriend Paloma (an expert on historic clothing), Diamond will need to don a wig and breeches in order to discover the dead man’s identity.

Unlike a lot of crime fiction series which overwhelm you with their characters’ back stories, Beau Death can easily be read as a stand-alone. There are some references made to incidents in Diamond’s past, but this really isn’t a series which demands to be read in order. Though mystery fans who are just discovering Lovesey will no doubt be delighted to find that he has such a rich and deep back catalog to enjoy. His Grand Master award is well-deserved indeed.


Grandma Cootie said...

Love his work, too. Right now I am enjoying his contributions to The Usual Santas. Great collection of short stories.

Meredith Phillips said...

Although I love the Peter Diamond series, and found Diamond Dust to be devastating, my favorite Lovesey novel is a standalone. THE REAPER stars a Church of England rector whom the reader loves even while he does terrible things. (That's not a spoiler, as it first happens on the first page.)

Marni said...

I'm a huge Lovesey fan, too, Janet, and when I set part of my new release in Bath, I kept picturing Diamond on the case! I admire the great chances he takes at times, especially killing off his wife! My favorite is a newer one, Another One Goes Tonight, where Diamond must examine his feelings when he thinks he's saved the life of a serial killer. Lovesey has such a talent for understatement, that wry humor of Diamond's that most people miss, and his ability to produce complex plots over and over while keeping his characters firmly seated in reality. He's one of my favorites~

Bernie Sammon said...

Just too hard to choose a favourite, and there are many of those, but Peter Lovesey is very hard to beat in the short story genre. "Do not exceed the stated dose", or "Murder on the short list", mini novels in the short story format.

Kara Marks said...

This sounds really good--I'd love to read it. legallyblonde1961 at yahoo dot com

Unknown said...

Wow! Another author I'm not familiar with. Will have to check him out. FamilyThurston@gmail.com

Meredith Phillips said...

I didn't include my email address (on the 2nd comment above). It's mphillips0743@comcast.net

Thanks, Meredith

CastaDiva said...

Yes, all the hallmarks that make a Lovesey novel so enjoyable are here: witty dialogue, interesting, well drawn characters, clever plot. But this novel, at 403 pages, is prolix; we are given so much information about Beau Nash, so many pages are spent on blind alleys, that the mystery itself tends to get lost. The author has clearly done his background research, as he does in all his books; but the book would have been a better read if some of the background had been edited. And I feel disloyal making this comment, as I am an avid Lovesey fan.